What is it like to be a Commercial Pilot?

Are you thinking about becoming a commercial pilot, but not quite sure what a typical day looks like? As you can imagine the typical day for a commercial airline pilot is much different from most careers. Many of CTI’s students have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the cockpit of commercial airliners. So we know a thing or two about what life is like. In this article, we’ll take you into a typical day in the life of a commercial pilot.

The Night Before Flight 

Once you become a commercial airline pilot your day before work will be unlike anyone else you know. FAA regulations state that a commercial pilot must have a rest period of at least 10 hours before every flight. Often this occurs at an airport hotel. However, ‘rest time’ doesn’t mean ‘sleep time.’ It means the time between a pilot’s last landing and take-off. So, it can include the time it takes for your flight to unload and the time traveling to your hotel. But, ultimately the rule is designed to ensure you get a full 8 hours of sleep before your next flight, which is a very reasonable thing to do considering the responsibility.

The Day of the Flight

On average, most commercial airline pilots work a 13-hour day on duty. You’ll probably wake up early and make your way to the airport. Once you make your way through the security shortcut line, you’ll get your paperwork from the gate agent. The paperwork includes all of the essential information you’ll need for the flight, including flight plan, weather, and aircraft weight.

Pre-Flight Prep

Once you’ve made your way into the cockpit the pre-flight checks begin. Once you do it enough it becomes second nature. A body-check is also needed to ensure everything is in order. This is usually carried out by your co-pilot. Once they are sure there are no leaks, no damage, and no loss of tire pressure, they will return to the cockpit to program the Flight Management System.

Ready for Take-Off

As soon as the doors close, you will wait for instructions from the control tower. This will include any directions to the runway, as well as clearance for take-off. Once you take off and are in flight, you have three top priorities – supervise the aircraft systems to ensure everything is working as planned, take note of nearby airports in case you need to make an emergency landing, and prepare for landing.

Do it Again

If you’re making a series of flights in a single day, you’ll repeat this process throughout your shift. Current rules state that pilots cannot exceed 8 hours of flying time in a 24-hour period. Once you’ve met your limit, your day is over. Then you go back to your hotel, get some rest and get ready for the next day of flying.

Ready to Start a Career in Commercial Aviation?

Thinking about getting a pilot certificate or starting a career in aviation? The demand for pilots is high, and the rewards are big. Book your discovery flight today and find out how CTI can get you started in aviation.

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